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News Article

March 31, 2014
'Pocket Rocket' coming to The Bahamas for the first time

KINGSTON, Jamaica - It's hard to imagine that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the darling of the entire Caribbean, has never stepped foot on the sunny islands of The Bahamas.
This May, she intends to change that by taking part in the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relay Championships, and the compact World and Olympic Champion is looking forward to the trip.
Winning four of the past five sprint global titles outdoors in the 100 meters (m), and by adding a 60m indoor title this year, the Jamaican national record holder is unquestionably the number one female sprinter in the world right now. Inclusive of relays, she has eight global gold medals since her OIympic debut in Beijing, China.
Her coach Stephen Francis calls her the greatest female sprinter over 100m in the history of athletics. With the hardware she has racked up in just a short period of time, it would be difficult to dispute that. In short, no other woman has done what she did, particularly in the 100m over the past six years. Still, the 27-year-old petite 'pocket rocket', as she is called by her many fans, remains as humble as ever, while still focussing on getting better.
"I'm driven from the inside and from certain circumstances what happened in my life. I don't pay attention to where I fall in history. I just want to continue to get better, and leave the sport better than I found it," said Fraser-Pryce. "I'm reserved. I try to stay away from being looked at as number one - just try to remain humble and grounded. Even after I won the three gold medals in Moscow (2013 World Championships), when I got back to my room, I was like, 'how am I possibly going to top this'. My husband says that I never enjoy anything, but enjoyment will come in time. I just want to continue to get better, and ensure that other young athletes could see that you need to work hard and you need to stay grounded and focussed to get to the top. The sky is the limit."
Fraser-Pryce leads by example. After pulling up to her morning workout last Thursday in her Mercedes jeep, she turned on her Bob Marley music through her head phones, and then engaged in an intense training session.
Francis, the head coach of the Maximizing Velocity and Power (MVP) Track Club, has the ultimate confidence in her.
"Stephen is a wonderful man. He looks rough, but inside he is soft-hearted," said Fraser-Pryce. "I admire him for the fact that he believes in me so much, and I believe in him as well. It's a two-way thing. For you to reap the rewards, you have to pay attention to the coach. I've always listened to him. He has not guided me wrong.
"I just want to continue to pave the way for the young men and women in our society. There is many more to come from Shelly-Ann. I still want to run 21 seconds, and I still want to go under 10.7, so I am still set on working hard, being grounded, and just trusting God to give me the strength and the health to do the things that I need to do."
Fraser-Pryce has personal best times of 10.70 seconds and 22.09 seconds in the 100 and 200m respectively. The 100m time is a national record for Jamaica. The world record in the century, her best event, is a blistering 10.49 seconds, set by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner 26 years ago.
"If I told you I didn't think about 10.49, I would be lying, but I'm one of those persons who believe that in order for me to think about a 10.49, I would have to get to a 10.6, and I would have to get to a 10.5," she said. "As it stands now, I'm not even at 10.6 yet. Until I get there, I try not to focus on the 10.49.
"I definitely believe in my heart that I'm a 10.6 sprinter, but nothing happens before its time. I just have to continue to work."
Fraser-Pryce said that she's very competitive when pitted against her rivals such as American Carmelita Jeter, but she's friendly as well.
"When we are competing against each other, we would walk past each other and don't say anything, but when we would have finished, we would stop and have a conversation. I would tell her that I admire her and she would say that she admires me, and stuff like that," said Fraser-Pryce. "It's a healthy rivalry. I like running against the U.S. They have been dominant for so many years, but we (Jamaica) are here now, and we have much more success to come."
Fraser-Pryce said that when she first started winning races, she discovered what her potential was, and how much better she could be if she continued to work hard.
"I knew what was expected of me," said Fraser-Pryce. "It's very hard to stay at the top, but you just have to keep working.
"I remember first walking through the tunnel at 'Champs' (Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association Boys and Girls Athletics Championships), and being nervous. This shows how far I have come in the sport. I understand and analyze someone's start, technique, and the amount of power they are getting from the blocks.
"At my first 'Champs' I was very excited. I made final and finished seventh. The adrenaline was flowing, but after the race I was excited and proud. The Olympics has shown you that you need to be calm and relaxed. 'Champs' has paved the way for a lot of us, and for me, it taught me how to handle certain situations."
Coincidentally, 'Champs' wrapped up on Saturday at the national stadium here in Jamaica, two days after the interview. Fraser-Pryce, who represented Wolmer's Girls at 'Champs' during her high school career, even provided a bit of commentary during the five-day meet. Whereas full-time commentating as an analyst is quite possible once her athletic career would have concluded, Fraser-Pryce said that she highly doubts that she would go into coaching, because she sees the stress that Coach Francis go through on a daily basis, and doesn't know if she can go through the same thing. For now, she's just enjoying her time commentating at 'Champs'.
"Champs is just awesome. I really love it and can't help but to make noise. I'm one of those fans who get my nails done in school colors. I'm big on style, and I focus on what I like."
Fraser-Pryce's animated style has translated right over into her senior career. She is always seen on the tour, or at big meets, with an assortment of hair styles which separates her from the rest. As a matter of fact, it was at her hair salon, Chic Hair Ja in Kingston, where she gave the interview to reporters last Thursday.
"It's not just that I love hair, I have a passion to create jobs," she said, vowing to bring in a barber in short order as well. "A lot of young men and ladies in Jamaica have degrees and are sitting at home because there are no jobs. If I can create a business so that other persons can get employment, then that's healthy for me and for Jamaicans."
Despite accomplishing it all outdoors over the past six years outdoors, this year could have a special meaning in Fraser-Pryce's career, in that she has already won the world indoor title in the 60m in her first year running indoors, she could run in the Commonwealth Games for the first time, and she is expected to be competing in the inaugural world relays in what would be her first trip to The Bahamas.
She spoke about how excited she is to be coming to The Bahamas.
"I have no idea of what The Bahamas looks like, but I can't wait to experience the culture and enjoy the championships there," she said. "I like the beach, not so much to go in the water because I can't swim, but just to sit on the beach and drink a martini and chill.
"I just hope that Jamaica fields more than one team because we have the depth. I'm not a huge fan of relays because there is always some controversy as to who will run what leg but this particular event should be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it, just going there and getting it done in The Bahamas. Relays are always exciting, and being a part of this first championship is very huge. I would love to be there to see what unfolds."
The world relays is set for May 24-25, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
At home in Jamaica, Fraser-Pryce's typical day is inclusive of her early training session at 6:30 every morning, taking her five-year-old niece to school at times, dropping by the hair salon, going to the gym around midday, getting a massage if needed, and then back for a second workout in the evenings. At times, she would have photo sessions, shoot commercials, and watch a movie if time permits. Her favorite TV shows are the Jamie Foxx and Steve Harvey shows.
As for her Pocket Rocket Foundation, it is geared toward assisting student-athletes in getting scholarships for secondary and tertiary level education.
"We're just trying to alleviate some of the stress and the problems that they face," said Fraser-Pryce. "When I started high school, I was blessed to have a woman assist me financially. She saw something in me that I didn't even see, and started to fund my education, my books, my lunch... everything.
"At that point, I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for Shelly-Ann, but she showed me compassion and love in so many ways and that in a way made me obligated to do the same thing to other athletes who are coming from impoverished situations. They are here, and a lot of their parents can't afford to send them to school so that they could become better individuals."
Fraser-Pryce's foundation gave out seven scholarships to deserving student-athletes last year.
"It has been really remarkable to see the progress that they have made, especially in the school area," said Fraser-Pryce. "We don't just hand out the checks, but be there for them emotionally as well. The foundation has given me a platform to cause a change for young Jamaicans. I just hope to get more sponsors to come on board so that we could give out more scholarships. These young kids are talented and bright.... they are just unable to pay their way through school."
On two of her tattoos, one on each wrist - one has the word 'hope' on it, and the other has the word 'faith' on it.
"I'm big on faith and hope. Everything that I hope for in life, I have faith that God will provide it for me," said Fraser-Pryce. "I still have a lot of work to do to get where I want to go. I understand what hard work does. I just have to remain dedicated and put in the work."
Apart from track and field, Fraser-Pryce said that she has grown to like football and cricket, but has an appreciation for all sports.

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News Article

May 22, 2014
Students learning about our living jewels

THE Bahamas National Trust (BNT) is working with the San Salvador Living Jewels Foundation, a local conservation organisation, to expand the national parks system to include five areas in the island: Southern Great Lake, Pigeon Creek and Snow Bay, Grahams Harbour, West Coast Dive Sites and Green's Bay.

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News Article

February 09, 2013
'For the Love of Art' exhibition feels the love on opening night

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- With their opening night at the Glory Banks Art Gallery a smash hit, kudos goes to the energetic team that put FOR THE LOVE OF ART Exhibition together, to the artists who had art in their hearts in preparing their artistic works, and to the faithful art patrons who attended opening night to support them.

Thursday, February 7th, gave the opportunity for the Grand Bahama community to mix and mingle with the members of the Grand Bahama Artists Association (GBAA) to experience the rich art culture available on the island and to feel the artistic buzz that is happening on the island.

Local and international artists, many whose names and works are known to the community, along with several newcomers brought their unique perspective to art in eclectic artistry of oil, wood, fiber, watercolours, Indian ink, handmade paper, beads and sequins ... greatly expanding the visual arts on Grand Bahama.

The evening gave art lovers an occasion not only to view the extensive selection of art pieces but also to purchase many of them.  However, if anyone missed opening night, for the month of February, in the garden atmosphere of the Bahamas National Trust in Freeport, the array of artistic renderings of faces, flowers, fanciful  abstractions, landscapes, wood carvings, portraits and seascapes, will continue until February 28th ... all for the love of art.   

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News Article

January 20, 2014
Defence Force helps to clean Lucayan Park

THE Grand Bahama branch of the Bahamas National Trust teamed up with 100 Defence Force Rangers to complete a second public service project at Lucayan National Park.

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News Article

March 28, 2014
GB BNT benefits from Bahama Rock donation

FREEPORT, The Bahamas - The Grand Bahama branch of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) recently received a donation of hammers, gloves, shovels and other equipment from Bahama Rock, the Reef Ball Foundation, Paradise Cove and ES Caribbean. The donation is a great example of a partnership between local and international organizations helping each other to help protect the environment.
"The BNT is appreciative of the tools donated through this partnership, which will significantly assist with ongoing work at the Rand Nature Center and Lucayan National Park," commented Lakeshia Anderson, Grand Bahama Parks manager. "We certainly look forward to building this relationship with these partners, to advance further conservation work in Grand Bahama."
Thanks to Bahama Rock's donation, volunteers were able to assist with preparing the reef balls for deployment into the water. Students from The College of Bahamas (COB), the Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) Rangers, St. George's Marine Conservation Group, and Lucaya International School were all a part of the initiative. While helping with the reef balls, the students participating all got a chance to learn about the importance of conservation and preservation of our shorelines.
With the reef ball project coming to an end, a decision has been made to re-donate the items to the BNT for use with national park maintenance on Grand Bahama. The donation was greatly appreciated by the BNT, as the supplies which were donated are a necessity when it comes to maintaining the parks.
Cheri Wood, a BNT member and volunteer noted, "Let this stand as a shining example of people and businesses that really care about the future of our environment and understand that we all must help each other if we are to succeed in keeping our island beautiful and healthy for generations to come."

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News Article
Ryan Knowles of Mario Carey Realty Earns International Designation Placing him in top 1 of agents
December 09, 2011
Ryan Knowles of Mario Carey Realty Earns International Designation Placing him in top 1% of agents

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Young real estate superstar Ryan Knowles has been awarded the prestigious Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist designation, catapulting the 24-year-old into the top tier of real estate agents. The international certification places Knowles, an agent with Mario Carey Realty, among fewer than 1% of all licensed agents in the U.S. and the Caribbean.

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News Article

April 13, 2013
Arts Calendar

Exhibitions
"Flower of Dreams", a collection of floral paintings by Lisa Quinn of Bermuda, opened Thursday, April 11 at the Antonius Roberts Studio and Gallery at Hillside House. For more information, visit http://www.antoniusroberts.com/, email hillsidehouse@gmail.com or call 322-7678.

"Responsible Faith" opens Wednesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. at The Ladder Gallery, New Providence Community Centre, Blake Road. Artists will paint on 55-gallon metal drums, which will be exhibited and then donated to community parks. The drum covers will be used to create wall art for a permanent collection at The Ladder Gallery. Some will also be sold to benefit ACE Diabetes.

The College of The Bahamas hosts its annual "Colour of Harmony", organized by the Department of Visual and Performing Arts in the college's Performing Arts Centre at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 17. The annual event showcases the talents of art and music majors and recognizes a significant contributor to the development of the arts in The Bahamas through the presentation of the E. Clement Bethel Award. The event begins with a concert, featuring selections by music students and is followed by an exhibition, featuring the work of art students.

"Tropical Alchemy", original art works by Tyler Johnston, opens Thursday, April 18 at at Popopstudios ICVA in Chippingham. This exhibition focuses on three inter-related bodies of work: maps of inheritance, power objects and transmutational icons. Rich in texture and color, Johnston has painted and assembled simple objects that he has found, allowing them to be transformed into something simultaneously complex and simple. There will also be a special performance by Bahama Woodstarr at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.popopstudios.com.

"Writers of Light: Beyond Our View", a photography exhibition that showcases College of The Bahamas student work, takes place Thursday, April 18 at 4:00 p.m at Chapter One Bookstore.

"26.6 N-78.7 W", an exhibition by Del Foxton, Susan Moir Mackey and Boryana Korcheva, opens Thursday, April 18 at 4 Martel Place, Bell Channel in Freeport, Grand Bahama. For more information, contact Susan Moir Mackey at sozmac@yahoo.com or (242) 353-4333 or 602-2014.

"Bubbles", new work by Antonius Roberts, continues at The Central Bank Art Gallery. The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This work will be on display until Friday, April 26.

All-star Amateur Artist (AAA) Artwork: "NE6: Kingdome Come" Edition continues at the The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Amateur artists were asked to create works that relate to the distinct sections, Identity, Spirituality & Balance, Justice, Transformation and Survival.

"2 Points of View", featuring work from Eleanor Whitely and Kendal Hanna, continues at Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts in Chippingham. For more information, visit popopstudios.com or call 322-7834.

"Kaleidoscope III", an exhibition by the Bahamas Union of Teachers and the Bahamas Association of Art Educators, is featured at the Treasury Building on East Street. The exhibit will feature works by art instructors from both private and public schools throughout The Bahamas.

"Single Sex", an all-female portrait show depicting only female subjects, continues at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. NAGB Curator John Cox says it is meant to stand in dialogue with the "Master Artists of The Bahamas" exhibition (later this year), which has no female representation. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email info@nagb.org.bs or call 328-5800/1.

"Matters of the Heart" a Salus Project art exhibition continues at the Ladder Gallery, New Providence Community Centre, Blake Road.

"Peace & Love: Writings on the Wall", an exhibition of recent work by Stan Burnside continues at the Stan Burnside Gallery, Tower Heights, Eastern Road. They are available to view by appointment by emailing stanburnside@coralwave.com or denniecakes@hotmail.com.

The Permanent Exhibition of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, displaying pieces under the theme "The Bahamian Landscape", continues this week at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Gallery hours: Tue. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Sun. noon - 4 p.m. Admission $5 adults; $3 students/seniors; children under 12 are free. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email info@nagb.org.bs or call 328-5800/1.

Lectures and Readings
Ceramicist Alistair D. Stevenson will share his experiences working and traveling in China in a special digital presentation "Talkin' Bout China" Friday, April 19 at 6 p.m. at Doongalik Studios Art Gallery on Village Road. For more information, please contact: Alistair D. Stevenson at 448-7209 or astvnson@gmail.com or Doongalik Studios at 394-1886 or doongalikart@batelnet.bs.

Netica Symonette launches her book, "A Girl Called Nettie: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love" on Friday, April 26 at 6 p.m. at Casuarinas of Cable Beach on West Bay Street. The book is an intimate account of Symonette's personal life over the past seven decades, breaking barriers and blazing trails. RSVP at 327-7921.

Music
The College of The Bahamas hosts the 20th Anniversary of the South Eastern African American Collegiate Music Festival Grand Finale Concert on Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the college's Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are $25 and are available at Chapter One Bookstore.

Film
Bahamas FilmInvest International will host the 5th Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase in June at Galleria Cinemas. This year's showcase will feature 29 feature films, documentaries, animations and children's films, with a special tribute being paid to the 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence.

Tours
Islandz, having acquired Downtown Art Tours, offers its Islandz Gallery Hop tours, examining art spaces downtown on Saturdays. Tickets are $20 per person for the two-hour tour. For more information or to book tickets, call 601-7592 or visit Islandz online at www.islandzmarket.com.

Tru Bahamian food tours offers a "Bites of Nassau" food tasting and cultural walking tour to connect people with authentic local food items, stories and traditions behind the foods and the Bahamians that prepare and preserve them, through a hands-on, interactive, educational tour and culinary adventure. Tickets are $69 per person, $49 for children under 12. Tours are everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., starting at the British Colonial Hilton and ending at Tortuga Rum Cake Company. For more information, visit www.trubahamianfoodtours.com.

Call for works
The Bahamas National Trust presents its Conchservation Campaign Logo Competition. Logos should be simple; easy to read; able to stand along without text and scalable. Designs will be judged on originality, simplicity, memorability and relevance. Entries should also include a brief explanation of the rationale behind the design and can be sent to lgape@bnt.bs. The deadline is for submission is 5 p.m. on April 24, 2013.

Family Guardian's annual Calendar Photo Contest is open to all Bahamian photographers, under the theme "A Celebration of Bahamian Pastimes". The deadline for entries is July 12. For more information, visit http://www.familyguardian.com.

The 10th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival invites filmmakers from around the worls to submit their narratives, documentaries, worls cinema, short films, animation and family films. This year's festival takes place December 5-13 on New Providence and Eleuthera. The deadline is July 17. For more information, visit http://bintlfilmfest.com.

The 30th Annual Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Competition and Exhibition invites entries for its Open Category under the theme "The Independents", in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence, which is being celebrated this year. The objectives of the competition are to identify, recognize and encourage Bahamian visual artists. To qualify, participants must be citizens of The Bahamas, aged 18 or older (as of October 1, 2013) and not registered in secondary school. The Open/Senior Category Competition and Exhibition component will be held from Tuesday, October 1 to Friday, November 1. Artists under 30 years are especially encouraged to embrace this opportunity of the theme of "The Independents" as a challenge in terms of material and/or the role and responsibilities of independent thinking in art in The Bahamas, as well as, thinking of the larger political symbolism of independence of the country.

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News Article

February 13, 2013
Preserving our greatest assets

Developers vie for oceanfront acreage with soft sandy beaches emerging out of turquoise waters - the quintessential image of island life. Luckily with our 700 islands we have an abundant supply of unspoiled coastline, or do we?
The announcement that acreage was for sale surrounding Dean's Blue Hole generated angst among Bahamians, and rightly so. It is almost unfathomable that a national treasure like Dean's Blue Hole could be jeopardized by neighboring development pressures. But we cannot hold the developer responsible for lands that it legally owns. It is the duty of the government to assess and then recognize areas of natural and historic significance. The developer cannot be the scapegoat for the government's lack of foresight to preserve these places. We must be proactive in our preservation efforts. Our wait and see attitude will yield only regret.
Crown land provides the government with a tool for negotiation. Yet, too often the enticement of foreign direct investment supersedes the inherent value of Crown land to Bahamians. Crown land has become a pawn in the game of development. How can we possibly allow Crown land to be leased for a mere $1 per year?
On Monday, The Nassau Guardian reported that a golf course and resort is proposed for a 600-acre site located on a peninsula known as the glass window. Obviously, the natural break in the landmass of Eleuthera known as the glass window, where the Atlantic meets the Great Bahama Bank, cannot be developed. But what about the Queen's Pools located approximately one kilometer south?
Negotiations between the government and developers are clouded in secrecy and more often than not are subject to the conditions of a non-disclosure agreement. Such agreements leave the Bahamian public essentially clueless until a press release is distributed after the project is signed. The wanton disregard for adequate beach access and public parks in New Providence produces scant confidence that the Family Islands will endure a different fate.
This government has an opportunity to identify lands of immense national importance before it cowers to development pressures. The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) oversees 27 national parks with over one million acres of the sea and land protected. A remarkable feat for a small island nation, but we can do more.
Why is Dean's Blue Hole not listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site? What about the blue holes and cave systems discovered in Abaco and highlighted in National Geographic? We boast about the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP) established in 1958, yet its inability to regulate and zone buildings on privately owned cays makes it not so much a park but a highly sought after real estate refuge. We should be proud of the ECLSP. It was a revolutionary concept at the time. Yet, it is also an example of the need to proactively preserve lands and establish land zoning before development pressures are too great.
Fortunately, a new generation of Bahamians is learning about the crucial application of resource management and integrated land use. Next week on Tuesday, February 19, The College of The Bahamas (COB) in conjunction with BNT and Harvard University will host a free symposium: Sustainable Exuma. Then, in early March, COB and the BNT will host a natural history conference showcasing the high level of scientific research ongoing in The Bahamas.
Presently, The Bahamas has the opportunity to identify and then to set aside lands of immense cultural and natural importance. Development is vital to moving the country forward but it should not be to the detriment of our heritage and the future enjoyment of our national treasures.

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News Article

March 05, 2013
A tour of Grand Bahama

THIS article was originally published in December 2009. Since then, Deepwater Cay has invested $10 million to expand and refurbish the resort, with new homes and a new clubhouse. The resort has built a complex on the mainland with docks, a lounge and new staff residences. The former movie studio complex/base is still abandoned. Bush has overgrown most of the area, and all the buildings on the water side have crumbled. The COB campus is now fully operational. A new boutique farm has opened up between the COB campus and the Lucayan National Park. The 20-acre Ol' Freetown Farm is Bahamian owned and offers farm tours, horse rides, and sells fresh eggs, seasonal fruits and vegetables. The Bahamas National Trust is working to expand the Lucayan park to incorporate the entire underwater cave system and tidal creeks, as well as the offshore reef area. A full proposal will be submitted to government and other stakeholders this year. Public access improvements at the park have included new boardwalks and staircases, the construction of a pavilion, and removal of invasive Casuarina trees to control erosion of the coastal dune.

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News Article

September 23, 2013
Understanding land use planning

Downtown Nassau embodies all of the elements for a beautiful cosmopolitan city: harbor frontage, history and architectural splendors. Yet its revitalization stymies, not for lack of effort by the Downtown Nassau Partnership, but from years of poor planning and inadequate maintenance. As the government seeks to reignite investment in the Family Islands, it must be cognizant of the shortcomings created by ad-hoc development so brazenly portrayed on New Providence.
The Bahamas courts foreign direct investment often in the form of land development projects. In fact, the 2013/2014 budget communication acknowledges that foreign investment projects are expected to continue to support construction activity. A point reiterated by Prime Minister Perry Christie in his address to Parliament, where he championed the thousands of prospective jobs stemming from development proposals on Eleuthera, Exuma and the Exuma Cays, Mayaguana, Cat Island and others.
Unfortunately, such land development proposals can linger on the cusp of approval for months or years frustrating both the developer and jobseekers. Delays emanate from inconsistent government policies that arise in part from the absence of a cohesive national development strategy. The Bahamas struggles to proactively build its future and to facilitate those projects that meet national and island-specific goals.
Land use planning is a mechanism and vital component to guide and sustain the future development of The Bahamas. By integrating existing environmental and socio-economic conditions with national development goals, The Bahamas can facilitate project-specific investment that aligns with a vision for progressive growth.

The Planning and Subdivision Act as a catalyst
Enacted in 2010, a primary objective of the Planning and Subdivision Act is to "provide for land use planning based on a development control system led by policy, land use designations, and zoning". The 2010 act provides a refreshing legislative update that aligns Bahamian policy with modern planning principles. The planning process has evolved from a fragmented ad hoc approach to a macro-vision for community connectivity.
According to the 2010 act, a land use plan is a policy document that shows existing and future planned land uses including lands to be protected from development. While intentionally vague so as not be restrictive, a more appropriate definition is provided by Canadian Institute of Planners whereby planning "means the scientific, aesthetic, orderly dispositions of land, resources, facilities, and services with a view to secure the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities".
A land use plan considers the physical, social and economic environment of a particular geographic area - i.e., the South Ocean property or Abaco. Most importantly, a land use plan is often a spatial (map) representation comprising several layers of data held in geographic information system (GIS) that allows for qualitative and quantitative analysis.
By integrating various land use designations in layers, such as environmental reserves, Crown land, utility infrastructure, planned commercial and residential areas, visual analysis of existing and proposed development becomes readily identifiable. Development thus becomes sustainable by being able to identify existing infrastructure and natural resource capabilities against future demand.

New Providence: A case study
New Providence mimics the global trend in urbanization with its proportion of the population increasing from 54 percent in 1953 to 70 percent in 2010. Such a high concentration of the population in the capital begets a natural accrual of public, economic and infrastructure resources further incentivizing relocation from the Family Islands. Yet, despite the perceived employment opportunities, poor planning has exacerbated the woes accompanying urbanization, namely crime and social stratification.
The World Bank acknowledges that demographic transitions are particularly difficult for small to medium-sized cities. In turn, insufficient infrastructure investment compounds the major urban challenges identified by the World Bank as climate change, resource scarcity, slum growth, poverty and safety concerns.
New Providence is all too familiar with these challenges as heavy rains exacerbate the drainage woes of Pinewood Gardens, shantytowns proliferate unabated and crime remains near record levels. Moreover, New Providence portrays the shortcomings of conventional zoning policy where building uses seldom account for adjacent land uses or public spaces. The fire at Strachan's Auto that threatened nearby homes exemplifies this danger.
But New Providence has been the subject of several concentrated land use studies. The revitalization of downtown Nassau has been mapped by ESDA and the recently implemented and completed road improvement project proposed some 20 years ago. But like the Family Islands, infrastructure costs are a significant capital burden depending on the investment of others or through proposed mechanisms like private-public partnerships.

A land use planning revolution
The 2010 act stipulates that land use plans shall be prepared for each island of The Bahamas and be available for public viewing. A comprehensive plan that entails the needs of a community while safeguarding natural resources provides a vision for the future possibilities of development.
Public participation is a crucial part of the specific island plans and may encourage positive developer relations. A land use plan previewed by the public may circumvent future issues of Crown land allotment if such uses are known to follow the goals of a national development policy.
In 2008, Planning Abaco, a land use plan for Abaco, was developed by Andrews University with the participation of Bahamian students, in collaboration with several local Bahamian firms. More recently, Harvard University has partnered with the government and the Bahamas National Trust to form Sustainable Exuma, an ongoing education and research directive to

generate land use plans for

Exuma. Both plans follow

the premise of sustainable development with a strong emphasis on environmental consideration and public space, but both are yet to be implemented.
At present, much of the concern surrounding Resorts World Bimini and the proposed expansion stems from the lack of an overall land use plan for Bimini and public consultation. While the public is assured that EDSA is drafting a master plan, it is curious that a land use plan is being developed in conjunction with construction.
It is also prudent to remember that numerous places in New Providence developed at a time when the environmental impacts were not assessed and many projects would never have been approved today. Yet, today policymakers cannot feign ignorance to the economic consequences of environmental degradation resulting from poor planning.
Integrated land use planning is integral to facilitating an actual commitment to sustainable development in The Bahamas.

o Melissa Bray Alexiou is the director of Waypoint Consulting Ltd., a project management and environmental consulting firm in Nassau, The Bahamas. For more information, visit www.waypointconsultingbahamas.com.

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